I went to deer camp and all I got was this lousy cold and a bee sting.
A bee sting, in freakin’ mid-October.
Actually, I think it was a yellow jacket, but aren’t those stinking things supposed to be all denned up for the winter?!
In more than a decade of hunting this part of Okanogan County, I can’t recall seeing them this time of year.
I don’t recall seeing so few deer either.
Not that there weren’t any muleys on the mountain. I saw eight on the opener, eight more on Sunday. All does and little ones.
Deer with antlers? Have yet to see any of those.
A little frustrating, especially seeing as how last December’s buck-to-doe count of 20:100 was the highest it’s been since 2002.
And the winter was mild, meaning most if not all should have survived.
And then spring and summer were moist, creating good feed conditions.
Leading into the season, Scott Fitkin, the local wildlife biologist, told me he expected the hunt would be the best in the last five years.
Harumph: Best in five years meet uncooperative weather.
Sure, there was ice on Highway 20 that nearly jack-knifed my dad and his trailer Friday morning, and there was a skiff of snow from that same storm still clinging to north faces along the North Cascades as I drove home yesterday afternoon.
But that’s not the kind of conditions that will push deer out of their high-country haunts.
The somewhat good news is that later this week there’s a chance it could rain and/or snow in the mountains of western Okanogan County as well as the west slope of the North Cascades.
Elsewhere in Washington’s deer woods, the forecast calls for a chance of rain in the Okanogan Highlands, Kettle Crest and Selkirks, Blue Mountains, and Central and South Cascades.
Some folks around the state won’t have to bother hunting the second weekend of the rifle season. 400out’s wife got her first buck in 17 years of trying, Hirshey and her boyfriend bagged a pair of whoppers, gtrplr took a 4×4 near Ritzville, Buckwheat and his pa both notched their tags and Northwest Sportsman’s Jason Brooks helped his nephew Chayse and his friend Chad Hurst kill their deer.
Back in the Okanogan, early stats from WDFW’s check station indicates a total of 31 deer counted on Saturday and Sunday — twice as many on the latter day as the former, according to a source at the Forest Service.
That’s down from the 36 counted over opening weekend last October, though at a different location so it’s hard to say how comparable the numbers are.
The Methow District of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and WDFW decided to team up and operate a joint check station/hunter info booth at the red barn, just west of the town of Winthrop.
They’ll be back at the station next Friday, Saturday and Sunday, according to the Methow Valley News.
I’ll be back those same days. By then I hope this head cold is gone. It left me a drooling, dripping mess on the mountain — no fun.